Best Family Plan in 2019: Which U.S. carrier treats families better? Android Central 2019

It's nice to have your entire family on the same cell phone plan, but it's even nicer if you can save money at the same time. Most providers have moved away from the family plan as a name and have moved towards offering discounts for having multiple lines on an account, but that still works well for families. The prices in this guide will be shown for four lines but some plans allow you to save with even more lines and autopay. Overall, the best option will be on Verizon Wireless, which allows you to mix and match.

Best Overall: Verizon Wireless

This one isn't all about the price so much as it's about the coverage and features. Verizon lets you mix and match its unlimited plans and has a Just Kids plan specifically for your young ones. The savings per line increase with the number of lines you have, with the most basic unlimited plan starting at $30 per month for five or more lines, which is down from $70, $60, $45, and $35 for one through four lines.

Most people will likely be content with the lowest tier Start Unlimited plan thanks to its unlimited talk, text, and data. However, LTE data speed will be reduced during times of congestion on this plan. If it's important to have more consistent data on a line, more expensive unlimited plans with an allotment of premium, or prioritized, LTE data are available.

For a similar price to the Start Unlimited plan, a line on a plan with at least one other unlimited plan can be substituted for a Just Kids plan. This plan includes 5GB of data, unlimited talk and text to 20 contacts, and access to Verizon Smart Family Premium with Parental Controls. This can be a good way to limit and monitor a younger person's phone use.

Pros:

  • Mix and match unlimited plans
  • Dedicated plan for kids
  • Massive Verizon network

Cons:

  • 480p videos on most plans
  • No hotspot on smaller plans
  • Can't mix in smaller data plans
  • Not compatible with all unlocked phones

Best Overall

Verizon Wireless Start Unlimited

Mix and match unlimited

Mix and match a custom plan including a Just Kids plan with Verizon Wireless and take advantage of one of the best data networks in the country.

Best Value: Sprint

Sprint offers a lot of value for its customers when it comes to unlimited data but there's no getting around that the Sprint network isn't as big or as grand as its competitors. You can, however, check to see if you have coverage and if you do, there are some big savings available until 2021. Not to mention they all have hotspot and Hulu service included so you can stream to your heart's content.

Sprint is currently offering some pretty major discounts on its Unlimited Basic plan. Compared to the more expensive plan, data is more likely to be deprioritized during congestion, videos stream at standard definition, and you miss some features like Amazon Prime and Tidal. Even considering those omissions, the plan starts at $60 for one line and moves up to $100 for two through five lines. That's right, you can have five lines for the cost of two.

While this discount doesn't last forever, even the standard prices are competitive. If you feel you need more, you can also jump up to the more expensive plans which come with more hotspot data, HD video streams, and Tidal music streaming.

Pros:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Hotspot on all plans
  • Major discounts on Unlimited Basic plan
  • Hulu service included

Cons:

  • Weaker network
  • Not compatible with all unlocked phones
  • 480p video

Best Value

Sprint Unlimited Basic

Big savings on lines 2-5

Sprint's laser focus on unlimited data and low prices and has one the most compelling offerings in family plans. Save money and forget about data usage.

Best for Streaming: T-Mobile

T-Mobile

T-Mobile delivers fast data and a lot of it. One of the best values comes from the middle unlimited plan, Magenta. There is a cheaper Essentials plan available on T-Mobile that includes unlimited data, but it has fewer features and doesn't include taxes and fees like the Magenta and Magenta Plus plans do.

The Magenta plan starts at $70 per month for one line but the cost per line quickly drops to $60 with a second line. With that second line you also get Netflix included. Lines three, four, and five are priced at $47, $40, and $36 per month respectively. Again, taxes and fees are included.

While this plan only streams videos at 480p quality, customers are allowed to use a massive 50GB before their data is deprioritized. An unlimited hotspot feature is also available with 3GB of LTE data. This plan also includes a few extras such as 2G data and texting in foreign countries, not to mention, 5GB of high speed data in Mexico and Canada.

Pros:

  • Fast T-Mobile LTE network
  • Netflix included
  • 50GB before deprioritization
  • Compatible with most unlocked phones
  • International options

Cons:

  • 480p video
  • Small high speed hotspot

Best for Streaming

T-Mobile Magenta

Tons of data

Netflix service is included with T-Mobile's Magenta plan. With unlimited data with 50GB before deprioritization, you can stream as much as you want.

Best for Light Users: AT&T Wireless

If your family doesn't use a lot of data or they can make strong use of your home Wi-Fi, a shared data plan might be a good value. AT&T's Mobile Share Plus 3GB plan allows your family to share 3GB of high speed data. After the 3GB is gone, data speeds are reduced to 2G speeds but if you use less than that, your data carries over to the next month.

You could also save further by checking for discounts available from your school or workplace with the Signature Program discount. Like most other plans, having more lines can reduce your price per line coming down to $30 per line or $120 total each month with four lines. The price per line ranges from $50, $40, $34, and $30 per line as you add up to four lines to your account.

You can use your data in a hotspot if your please as well. Of course, AT&T has more plans available, including a 9GB data sharing plan and two unlimited plans if you find AT&T's network is strong enough in your area to make the extra cost worth it over other carriers.

Pros:

  • Fast AT&T LTE network
  • More data available
  • Data rollover
  • Unlimited talk and text

Cons:

  • 480p video
  • Expensive

Best for Light Users

AT&T Wireless Mobile Share Plus 3GB

From 3GB to unlimited on one carrier

AT&T has one of the best LTE networks around and offers your plenty of ways to use it from data sharing plans to unlimited plans including television.

Best Prepaid: Verizon Wireless Prepaid

Verizon Prepaid allows you to mix and match its plans to build a plan that's a perfect fit for your family. One of the best values available is the First 6GB plan on all lines thanks to a $10 per additional line discount alongside a $5 per line discount for autopay. With this plan, each person will get 6GB of high speed data with unlimited 2G speeds if that runs out. All of this comes to $110 per month with four lines.

Of course, more lines can be added at the same rate and plans can be mixed and matched for each family member's needs. Keep in mind that a 1GB plan is available but isn't eligible for discounts, making it more expensive than the 6GB plan if used for any line sother than line one. Upgrades are available with a 16GB and unlimited plan on the roster.

All of this runs on top of one of the best wireless networks in the U.S. with mobile hotspot. Keep in mind you do give up a bit in extras when going with prepaid such as included international roaming but the 16GB plan as well as the unlimited plan includes unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada.

Pros:

  • Massive Verizon network
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Several data packages

Cons:

  • 480p video
  • No Premium LTE data

Best Prepaid

Verizon Wireless Prepaid 6GB

Great deals in prepaid

Skip the contracts and go prepaid with the Verizon network behind your phone. Build a plan that fits your family whether you need a little or unlimited.

Bottom line

The bottom line when considering a carrier for your family is reliability and coverage. Verizon is a constant top contender when it comes to network performance and thankfully, there is a plan for most families. While almost any carrier can give discounts for adding lines and many MVNO carriers offer a lot of data for less money, the quality of service as well as the flexibility of Verizon's family plans leaves Verizon comfortably at the top. Whether your use only a little or a lot, Verizon's unlimited plans are a great option.

However, Verizon's plans are great for their flexibility, not necessarily for their price. If you want the cheapest plans available, there are other options to check out.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

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